What’s the Impact? 10,000+ copies of 3 original children’s books written and designed by locals will be printed and distributed across Cambodia reaching an estimated 175,000 children.
When the Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia in 1975, they began eliminating most of the educated and business class as enemies of the state, and by doing so, destroyed the economy. In just three years 1.7 million people were killed and by 1978, only a few teachers, writers, artists, scientists, and other “intellectuals” were left in the country. A whole generation of literate role models was eliminated and as a result, few professional authors, illustrators, artists or publishers exist in Cambodia today.
There is a great need for affordable Khmer language books to meet the demand of young readers and to support a culture of reading in Cambodia. Room to Read Cambodia works not only to provide children with the books they need, but to build up the industry of publishing through supporting and developing the talent of local professionals.
This new book will be the first Better World Books-sponsored children’s book created from scratch and will be distributed in an area craving local-language children’s content in order to build a love of reading and independent readers across the country from an early age. This project was originally to take place in Laos, but Room To Read was able to find donors to support all their Laos projects. That’s great news, so we’ve shifted our resources to Cambodia to make a greater collective impact.
Room to Read’s Local Language Publishing Program grew out of a need to source high-quality, colorful, culturally-relevant, and age-appropriate books for Room to Read-built libraries. This program works with local writers and illustrators to create and publish high-quality local language children’s books for these libraries. Room to Read works in 9 countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Zambia) and have established 11,246 libraries since their inception in 2000, impacting the lives of over 4 million children.
Here are some examples of previous local books Room To Read has published in Cambodia:
The Snake Who Wants to Buy a Shoe
This book introduces simple concepts related to the use of money in everyday situations as the main character finds out who he can purchase just one shoe from with the money he has.
A Khmer Family’s Fishing Devices
A Khmer Family’s Fishing Devices is a poem written in traditional Khmer form about fishing devices and methods, and the life of traditional Khmer fishermen and women.
Published in 2009, this book is beautifully illustrated in traditional Khmer style. The book describes one of Cambodia’s significant festivals, which honors deceased ancestors.
Additional Resources on LLP and Room to Read Cambodia:
Room to Read’s blog posts on Cambodia
Room to Read’s blog on LLP
10×10 film project and an excellent interview with Room to Read’s Country Director for Cambodia